The Entomologist's record and journal of variation.
V 91 1979: http://www.biodiversitylibrary.org/item/95441
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History of some recently described Charaxes with the
description and life history of Charaxes vansoni van
Someren (Lepidoptera; Nymphalidae)
by S. F. Henning *
The evidence which led to van Someren (1975) establish-
ing the three species Charaxes phaeus Hew., Ch. brainei van
Son and Ch, vansoni van Som. is herein presented. The com-
plete description, life history, habits, habitat and distribution
is given of the latter species. A key is provided for the identi-
fication of these morphologically similar species.
Van Someren (1975) in an additional note at the end of
his Revisional Notes of African Charaxes, Part X, raised to
species status several taxa which were previously considered
subspecies or forms. He was unable to include the evidence
which led to the establishment of these species because the
manuscript had already been submitted to the publishers. He
requested, however, that on completion of the study the
relevant evidence should be published, which is the object of
the present paper.
In 1972 an attempt was made to solve the intrigumg
problem of the uneven distribution of the female forms of the
species then known as Charaxes viola phaeus Hew. in the
Transvaal. Large series of both the southern and northern
populations were examined and a number of specimens were
bred. Enough evidence was obtained with regard to the
differences in the morphology and the early stages to prove
that the 5 form vansoni was actually a species in its own right.
It was found that phaeus bred on Acacia nigrescens Oliv.
and vansoni on Peltophorum africanum Sond. Neither species
would accept the foodplant of the other. The larvae were
morphologically quite distinct and the headshields were struc-
turally different. Slight constant morphological difference were
found in the males and the aedeagi were markedly different.
It was further concluded that phaeus also warranted full
species status as, morphologically, it differs greatly from C/z.
viola Butler and on examination of the genitalia and the life
histories of both species this was confirmed. The larvae of
phaeus and viola were quite distinct.
Morphologically C/i, vansoni is similar to Ch. brainei
from South West Africa, but a
of the male
genitalia showed marked differences. The aedagus of vansoni
is distinct in having a large ventrally-projecting hook. In
1 Lawrence Street, Florida Park, Florida 1710, South Africa.
Charaxes vansoni van Someren ^.1. Upperside, 5. Underside.
Charaxes brainei van Son 5 • 2. Upperside. 6, Underside.
Charaxes phaeus Hewitson 5. 3. Upperside. 7. Underside.
Charaxes fionae Henning $ — paratype. 4, Upperside. 8. Underside
ENTOMOLOGIST S RECORD
brainei the large hook is present but it projects dorsally and
the aedeagus is rather differently shaped. The differences
between vansoni and brainei are great enough to consider
them to be separate species. They possibly occur sympatrically
in the Okavango Swamp area in Botswana but more collecting
is required to determine their exact distribution.
The differences in morphology and
brainei and viola were such that it was decided that they, too,
were best considered separate species.
Acting on the above information, van Someren (1975)
raised Charaxes phaeus, Ch. vansoni and Ch. brainei to specific
level. The above study also led to the discovery of Charaxes
fionae Henning which is a species closely allied to Ch. phaeus.
KEY TO THE MALES
1. Underside reddish -brown, upper tail on
hindwing longer than lower one
- Underside grey or pale brown, lower tail
on hindwing longer than upper ...
2. Forewing upperside: subapical spots
white or orange; aedeagus with irregular
- Forewing upperside: subapical spots blue
or green; aedeagus with large hook
3. Hindwing underside, pale coppery-brown
with a silvery discal sheen only at costa,
or absent; aedeagus with
- Hindwing underside, grey with silvery
discal sheen from costa to inner margin;
aedeagus with large dorsal hook
KEY TO THE FEMALES
1. Upperside with discal band
- Upperside without discal band
discal bar broad,
underside ground colour pale coppery-
Upperside hindwing discal bar
underside sround colour
slight violaceous tinge
3. Underside reddish-brown
- Underside grey or pinkish-grey
• « *
• * ■
KEY TO FINAL INSTAR LARVAE
1. Body dull olive-green with fine creamy-
yellow oblique lateral lines and two small
creamy-yellow dorsal spots on each seg-
ment except the last
- Body green without creamy-yellow obli-
que lines or dorsal spots
Charaxes vansoni van Someren 2.1. Upperside. 5. Underside.
Charaxes brainei van Son 5 . 2. Upperside. 6. Underside.
Charaxes phaeus Hewitson 2 . 3. Upperside. 7. Underside.
Charaxes fionae Henning 2 — paratype. 4. Upperside. 8. Underside.
^ r *^ - '%
Aedeagi of Charaxes:
a. Charaxes viola kirki Butler.
c. Charaxes fionae Henning.
b. Charaxes phaeus Hewitson
d. Charaxes brainei van Son.
Charaxes vansoni van Someren. f. Charaxes howarthi Minig.
HISTORY OF CHARAXES AND CHARAXES VAN SOMEREN 179
2. Intersegmental membrane yellowish be-
tween first six segments -,, •.•
- Intersegmental membrane not yellowish
between first six segments 3
3. Body green with narrow somite bars ... Ch, viola
- Body green with broad somite bars ... Ch. fionae
Charaxes vansoni van Someren
Charaxes viola phaeus $ f. vansoni, van Someren & Jack-
son, 1957: 43.
Charaxes viola phaeus ? f. vansoni, van Someren & Jack-
son; van Someren, 1969: 137.
Charaxes vansoni van Someren, 1975: 107.
DIAGNOSIS: Male, Upper side: Velvety black with basal
bluish lustre. Two blue subapical spots. Hindwing margin
orange-red bordered with blue or greenish above upper tail,
then olive to anal-angle. Postdiscal wavy green line faint.
Lower tail longer and larger than upper. Underside: Fore-
wing ground colour grey-brown. Black markings similar to
those of Ch. phaeus. Hindwing ground colour coppery-brown
with silvery satin sheen, extending from base across costa and
cell. The silver sheen never extends discally down to the inner-
margin as in phaeus.
Female, Upperside: Ground colour brownish-black. White
discal and postdiscal spots well apart except that the spots in
lb may touch; anterior half of discal bar and postdiscal spots
may be orange. Hindwing discal white band extends from costa,
where it is widest, then tapering towards inner fold and there
represented by a pale mark, the lower half of the band shaded
with blue or orange, submarginal marks clear, lilac or bluish
with white centres. Upper tail longer and larger than lower.
Underside: Basal area of forewing greyish, shading to brownish
towards the outer border, discal band creamy to ochre. Hind-
wing marks obscured, discal pale band slightly indicated at
costal end. The whole underside with a satiny glaze.
DESCRIPTION OF MALE
Forewing length 29.5 — 32.3mm; antenna-wing ratio: 0.42.
Head: Fronto-clypeal region thickly covered with dark
grey hairs; epicranial region covered with black hairs. There
is a patch of white scales anterior and posterior to each
antennal base. Compound eye is ringed posteriorly with white
scales. Labial palps are dorso-laterally black, ventro-laterally
pinkish-grey. Antennae are black, proboscus ochre. Thorax:
Black covered with greenish-black hairs and scales dorsally,
pinkish-grey ventrally and laterally. Legs: Femur dorsally
black with bluish-white spots, otherwise legs pinkish-grey.
Abdomen: Greenish-black dorsally and laterally, pinkish-grey
ventrally. Wings: Upperside: Forewing shape falcate. Ground
colour velvety black with basal bluish lustre. Two blue or
bluish subapical spots; midway between these and the cell are
two more blue spots, the upper being larger than the lower
which is often faint; at the distal end of the cell is another
180 entomologist's record I/VII-VIII/79
small, faint blue spot. Margin bluish or greenish, merging into
the ground colour. It is broken by black along the veins; width
2mm, broader at apex. Faint blue submarginal spots may be
present. Hindwing: Ground colour blue-black with very fine
greenish-black hairs basally extending along the upper edge
of the anal fold to the tornus. Anal fold dark grey to greyish.
Margin in 4 to 6 orange-red bordered with blue or greenish-
blue with a very small faint bluish mark in 7. Margin is broken
by black along the veins. Two tails on veins 2 and 4. The tail
on vein 2 is 3.7 — 4.7mm long, and on vein 4 is 4.0 — 5.6mm.
The lower is always broader and slightly longer than the upper.
Margin between tails greenish-ochre and extending into the
tails. Tornus protruding, margin olive with two submarginal
blue spots thinly lined with white proximally. The other sub-
marginal blue spots are smaller, usually centred with white.
Faint postdiscal line from tornus to 6.
Underside: Forewing ground colour grey-brown with
silvery satin sheen extending over entire forewing except for
basal, discal and submarginal areas. The black discal striae
begin at the costa below the subapex, becoming wider pos-
teriorly until they form a black patch surrounded by light blue
scahng in lb. Two submarginal black patches appear in lb.
Basal, sub-basal median and submedian black lines distinct.
Hindwing: Ground colour pale coppery-brown with a silver
satin sheen extending from base across the costa and cell.
Anal fold greyish with slight silvery sheen. Postdiscal line of
olive and red lunules better developed towards inner margin.
Margin above tails red to orange red, olive or greenish below
g into the tails. Submarginal line of blue and
white spots from tornus to 7 or 8; submarginal area with
DESCRIPTION OF FEMALE
Forewing length 33.3 — 37.5mm; antenna-wing ratio: 0.36.
Head: Fronto-clypeal and epicranial region thickly covered
with dark brownish-grey hairs. There is a patch of white scales
anterior and posterior to each antennal base. Compound eye is
ringed posteriorly with white scales. Labial palpi are dorso-
laterally greyish-black, ventro-laterally pinkish-white. Antennae
are black, proboscus ochre. Thorax: Black covered with hairs
and scales, dark greenish-grey dorsally, ventrally and laterally
-grey. Legs: Femur dorsally black with bluish-white
spots, otherwise legs pinkish-grey. Abdomen: Dark grey
becoming lighter ventrally.
Wings: The following is the description of the holotype as
given by van Someren and Jackson in 1957. "Upper side: Fore-
wing ground colour black with a strong greenish suffusion
basally; a bluish-white spot often present in the cell; a small
one (often doubled) just beyond the cell: discal bar white or
bluish-white, commencing with a subcostal spot in 5 — 6, then
sub-basal in 3, widening to middle of la. A post-discal series of
white spots from 2 — 7. Hindwing discal bar strongly bluish, or
at least edged distally with blue, extends from costa to inner
^^fmSTORY OF CHARAXES AND CHARAXES VAN SOMEREN 181
fold, but does not cross it except just above anal angle. A sub-
marginal series of lunulate blue or bluish white spots distally
edged with black; margin olive to upper tail, then red.
Underside: Forewing ground colour as in the male, but white
marks show through; hindwing discal bar less strongly in-
There is some variation among the females of this species
and three forms are easily distinguishable. At the one extreme
there is the female corresponding to the holotype, in which the
discal bar is white or bluish, while at the other extreme there
is a variation in which the discal bar is orange and white, while
the third is an intermediate between the two in which the
orange markings are reduced to a pale yellow-ochre colour.
All three variations were bred from ova laid by a single female
collected at Waterpoor in the Transvaal. The two extremes are
scarceir than the intermediate.
Variation 1: This is the form described as the holotype,
with a white or bluish-white discal bar.
Variation 2: Upperside: Forewing, ground colour black
with a strong greenish suffusion basally, distal margin reddish-
brown, widest at apex and tapering towards tornus. Discal bar
orange in 2 — 6, white in la and lb, widest in la and narrow-
ing anteriorly. Postdiscal series of orange spots from 2 — 7.
Hindwing: discal bar extends from costa to inner margin,
white suffused with orange in lb — 4; distally white, suffused
with blue in 5 — 8. Underside: Forewing as in holotype, but
orange as well as white shows through. Distal margin red-
brown as on upperside. Hindwing as in holotype. Tail on vein
4 is 6.2 — 8.0mm and on vein 2 is 4.9 — 6.9mm.
Variation 3: This variation appears to be an intermediate
between the other two. The orange markings on the forewing
upperside of Variation 2 are reduced to a pale yellow-ochre
colour and the hindwing discal bar has no orange at all. In
some specimens the hindwing discal bar can be completely
suffused with pale blue scales.
cT GENITALIA: Uncus longer than tegumen, a single
rounded lobe with a small apical projection and several hairs;
gnathos about the same length as the uncus, expanded distally;
valva produced into an apical process, ventral edge folded in-
wards, ridge turns ventrally below apical process where it runs
into a long hook; furca short, broad, distally expanded convex
plate, apically compressed, forming a short sharp hook. Ratio
of valva to aedeagus, about 0.6; ratio of proximal to distal
portions of aedeagus, about 0.88; the aedeagus has a large
toothed, ventrally-protruding hook which is of diagnostic value;
distal end is compressed. Vinculum narrow.
? HOLOTYPE: Transvall, Pretoria, 29.IV. 1948, C. R. S.
van Son, in Transvaal Museum, Pretoria.
9 PARATYPE: Transvaal, Pretoria, 22.IV. 1948, C. R. S.
van Son, in British Museum (N.H.), London.
1 82 entomologist's record 1/ VII-VIII/79
Foodplant: Peltophorum africanum Send, (Leguminosae).
EARLY STAGES: Larvae and ova of this species can be
found on both saplings and larger trees. With some experience
one can soon differentiate between promising and unlikely
vegetation types. On small saplings the larvae tend to hide
themselves amongst the vegetation, but on larger trees they
prefer odd sprays on the outside of the main mass of vegeta-
tion. During the past season Bampton has found several larvae
while motoring through the Transvaal, and spotting a likely
looking tree on the side of the road. Larvae can be found all
the year round, but one of the best months is May.
Egg: Oval, 1.2mm in diameter, flattened at the base with
a slightly fluted dorsal depression. It is pale green when first
laid and develops a brown ring around the depression within
48 hours of being laid if fertile. The egg hatches from 5 to
14 days. The eggs are laid singly on the upper surface of the
leaves of the foodplant. At eclosion the larva eats the entire
LARVA: ht instar: Total length at eclosion about 4mm.
Body ochre, becoming immaculate green once it starts to feed.
Headshield is black, oval, diameter 0.7mm; dorsal horns 0.8mm
long and curved inwards at the tips; lateral horns 0.4mm long
and straight. Length attained by the larva was about 6mm.
Duration of instar is normally 1 — 2 weeks.
2nd instar: Body immaculate green. Headshield is pale
bro\vn, becoming sHghtly green in the ventral half in some
specimens. Diameter of facial disc 1.5mm; dorsal horns L6 —
1.9mm long and lateral horns 0.8mm long. Duration of instar
normally from 2 — 3 weeks. Length attained by the larva was
about 1 1mm.
3rd instar: The body is green, developing yellowish-white
somite bars on the sixth and eighth segments. The bar on the
sixth segment is well developed while that on the eighth is
faint. The headshield diameter is 2mm; it is green with a broad
yellow band around the lower margin, ventral side of
lateral horns and laterally on the dorsal horns. There are two
laterally situated black patches on either side of the head near
the lower angle. The dorsal horns 2 — 2.5mm long and the
lateral horns 1 — L5mm long: the former are curved inwardly
at the tips; the horns are green, occasionally tipped with
brown. Length attained by larva is about 15mm. Duration of
instar normally from 2 — 3 weeks.
4th instar: Develops third somite bar on the tenth segment.
All three bars are now well developed. The intersegmental
membranes anteriorly are yellowish. The headshield is similar
to that of the third instar, diameter is 3mm, dorsal horns 4 mm
and lateral horns 2mm. Length attained by larva is about
23mm. Duration of instar is normally 2 — 3 weeks
5th instar: Body green, with three well developed somite
bars on segments six, eight, and ten. Intersegmental membrane
is yellowish between the first six segments and to a lesser
Vic to/ i a \
o N Q i f o b i
M p Q nd Q
on key Boy
p , hO
• Charaxes fionae
HISTORY OF CHARAXES AND CHARAXES VAN SOMEREN 183
extent between the remaining segments. Larval markings are
to those found in Ch. ethalion Bsdv. Some larvae,
especially in the dry months, have the yellow markings suffused
with pinkish-orange. The colour of the headshield is similar
to that of the previous two instars, diameter is 4,5mm, dorsal
horns 5 — 6mm, lateral horns 3.5 — 4.0mm. In some speci-
mens the headshield is laterally almost conipletely yellow.
Lateral horns may be yellow with only a thin green
stripe; the dorsal horns are heavily marked with yellow later-
ally and are occasionally tipped with brown. The lateral horns
on some specimens are nearly as long as the dorsal horns,
sets of horns are extremely long and stout compared with
those of phaeus. The cast headshields are much thinner and
less intensely marked than those of phaeus. They have a
"washed out" appearance. Length attained before pupation
is nearly 40mm. Duration of instar is normally 2 — 4 weeks.
The above information was obtained during the breeding
of about 80 imagines of vansoni and about 40 other larvae
which were parasitized or died from fungal and virus diseases.
Pupa: Green, margin of wing-case may have a yellow
stripe. It is 16 — 20mm long. The pupal stage lasts about three
Habits of Adult
Charaxes vansoni is an inhabitant of dry bushveld country.
The habits are very much like those of C/z. phaeus in that the
males arrive at the hilltops and establish territories from which
they chase intruders of the same or other species. The females
are rarely seen as they spend the majority of their time flying
at random through the bush looking for suitable foodplants on
which to lay their eggs.
The butterfly is rarely seen in numbers at sucking-trees,
unlike the females of phaeus. My brother G. A. Henning once
captured 15 males and females at a sucking-tree at Rashoop
near Brits; otherwise only the odd specimen has been caught
They also do not come readily to traps and the majority
of specimens obtained have resulted from breeding the species.
The species is distributed from Zululand and the eastern
Transvaal westwards to eastern Botwana, and northwards into
Transvaal: Barberton; Dendron; Waterpoort; Saltpan,
Zoutpansberg; Rashoop near Brits; Pretoria; Rustenburg;
Botswana: Gaberone; Malapye.
Rhodesia: Salisbury; Bulawayo; Lake Kyle.
FLIGHT PERIOD: The species flies throughout the year.
March, April and May
encouragement throughout the preparation of this paper; to
184 entomologist's record I/VII-VIII/79
Mr, I, Bampton for the provision of much information and
material; to the following for information and specimens:
Messrs. J. Braine, R. L Vane-Wright, Dr. L. Vari; to Mrs. F.
L Martin for typing the manuscript; and to Mr. C. G. C.
Dickson and Dr. L. Vari for reading the manuscript and for
many useful suggestions.
Actual forewing length of specimen 1, Charaxes vansoni
cf, in Plate V is 28mm from the middle of the thorax to the
apex of the wing. Actual forewing length of specimen 1,
Charaxes vansoni 9, in Plate VI is 32mm from the middle of
the thorax to the apex of the wing.
Henning, G. A., 1977. Observations on the Early Stages of African
Charaxes with notes on Life Histories (Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae).
Ann. Transv. Mus. 30: 219-230.
Henning, S. F., 1977. Description and Biology of a new species of
Charaxes (Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae) from Central Africa. Ibidem
Vane- Wright, R. I., 1976. The Type-material of the nominal species
Charaxes vansoni van Someren (Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae). Ibidem
Van Someren, V. G. L., 1969. Revisional Notes on African Charaxes
(Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae). Part V. Bull, Br. Mus. Nat. Hist.
(Ent.) 23: 75-166.
, 1975. Revisional Notes on African Charaxes
(Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae). Part X. Ibidem 32: 67-135.
Van Someren, V. G. L. and Jackson, T. H. E., 1957. The Charaxes
etheocles-ethalion complex (Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae). Supple-
ment No. 1. Ann. Transv. Mus. 23: 41-58.
Van Son, G., 1966. A new subspecies of Charaxes viola Butler from
South-West Africa. Novos Taxa ent, 49: 3-7.
Scarce Prominent (Odontosia carmelita Esp.): Second
ONLY Record for the Eastbourne District. — This rather
local insect was taken for the first time since 1951, when Mr.
S. Salvage recorded the species in the Transactions of the
Eastbourne Natural History Society, a singleton taken on the
30th April in Abbot's Wood.
The present record is for a freshly emerged male which
arrived at light on the 11th May 1979 in the very same locality
whilst I was collecting in the company of Mr. M. Parsons. —
M. Hadley, 7 Beverington Close, Eastbourne, Sussex B21 2SB.
Pupation Date of Cosmorhoe ocellata L. ^ One of
the pleasures of rearing common and familiar species is the
rediscovery of their lesser known characteristics and in this
most species can spring surprises. A large brood of C ocellata
I reared from the egg in 1977 spun up in August and remained
as unchanged larvae right through the winter. I kept examining
cocoons until as late as April when suddenly all pupated. It
is well known that the species overwinters as a larva in its
pupal cocoon but the late date of pupation is not so widely
known. — G. M. Haggett.